My Unpopular Friend | The Negative Clerk | Stealing the Moment

My Unpopular Friend

Dear Micah,

I have a buddy who is such a blowhard. He boasts and brags at every turn. He monopolizes every conversation and when talk ceases to be about him, he’s ready to call it a night. I am unsure as to how to bring this up to him. He’s making a fool of himself. He’s also alienating people because he never asks them about how they’re doing. He just starts in about himself every time. Most people don’t like to be around him and I want to help him change in a way that won’t embarrass him too much. I have my own motive too. People are starting to avoid me now too because I’m Jake’s friend. I think they think I’m as bad as he is by association or they think if they invite me to something I’ll be bringing Jake. Help me figure out how to talk to him about this.

Jake’s Friend


Dear Jake’s Friend,

Not a lot you can do here. If you tell Jake how off-putting his behavior is, it’s not going to get you a favorable result. It will embarrass and anger him and he’s not going to admit that you’re right. He’ll say to himself that you are just jealous of his success. A braggart is just a person who has no feelings of self-worth and tries to disguise that with a lot of grandiose talk about how great or successful they are.

It’s really sad because Jake doesn’t realize that he isn’t impressing people; he’s turning them off and making himself look like an idiot. People are rolling their eyes at him and probably making fun of him behind his back, but only Jake can get himself out of this. I’ve been there. I used to have no self-esteem and I made up some. I was extremely arrogant at times, but the difference is that along the way, I developed self-worth, self-respect, and self-love. I don’t need other people’s approval now. It’s nice to have it, but my mental stability isn’t reliant on it.

Now when I’m arrogant, it’s because I really am right and some moron is too stupid to see my rightness, but I now trust that I’m a reasonably good person with good instincts and I usually make the right choices. I faked it until I made it. That’s what Jake is doing. He is desperately trying to convince all of you that he’s got it all going on until he can finally convince himself. He will in time and the bragging and self-absorption will diminish. However, you may not feel like hanging on the line while that transformation slowly works itself out. There’s nothing wrong with abandoning the ship if the ride is making you nauseous, but putting a mirror up in front of Jake isn’t going to help him fix himself. When you have a person with no self-esteem, and you point out yet one more thing wrong with them, it doesn’t really help matters.

However, sometimes it’s the very thing that you need to do to make you feel better. If that’s the case and you just need to empty it all out and tell him how frustrating he is and how much trouble it is to be his friend, go for it. If you’ve had all you can take and are planning on walking out anyway, a dose of truth can’t hurt the friendship any more than it is already. As I said, it won’t help him, but maybe it’ll make you feel better.


The Negative Clerk

Dear Micah,

Every time I go to the grocery store I have to hear all about the latest problems in the life of the checkout girl. She thinks we’re friends I guess and just goes on and on. It really ticks me off and I’m thinking about switching grocery stores because of it. The next nearest is several streets out of the way so I don’t want to do that. Is there a nice way to tell her to stop?

Tired of Hearing It


Dear Tired,

Really? This is your question? Here’s a radical solution, check out in a different line! I think I know all of the major grocery store chains, and I don’t know of any that have only one line and only one cashier. I do know your frustration, though. There is a girl at my grocery store that is the slowest cashier I have ever seen. It takes forever in her line, so I skip her. If her line is free, I will still stand in a longer line because I know that longer line will finish faster than she will. I’ve even pretended that I forgot something and had to turn the buggy down another aisle just to avoid her if she’s standing at her post motioning for me to come to her.

Just go to someone else. In a grocery store you have that option— not like in a restaurant when the waiter does that. I recently had dinner at a place where the waiter was like this woman you’re talking about. Being courteous, I asked him how he was doing that night and he responded, “Not good. Things couldn’t get any worse.” That was not what I expected to hear. I expected a “just fine and yourself?” reply. Then he said it again, “No, I just don’t see how things could get any worse today.” Well, I couldn’t leave that hanging there, so I replied, “Well, you could get beaten half to death by a gang of men in hockey masks and left for dead in a Stuckey’s parking lot.” He just stared at me, as my dinner companion spit her drink back into her glass. “That would make things a little worse.” I added.

Needless to say, he didn’t say anything else about his bad day, of course I don’t even want to know what he did to my food. The point is that you will always find negative people in any business, so when you have an easy opportunity to ignore them or bypass them altogether, seize it rather than just complain—after all, isn’t complaining the exact reason why you don’t like them?


Stealing the Moment

Dear Micah,

My cousin used my son’s 10th birthday party to announce her divorce to the family and I’m livid. All the attention that should have been his got pulled to her. What should I do to let her know that it’s not okay that she did that?



Dear Amy,

Why bother? She probably didn’t mean to steal your son’s moment. Maybe she had to explain why her husband wasn’t with her, or maybe she just thought it was a good time since everyone was together in one place. I doubt she meant to upset you. Your son was 10. As long as he had presents and cake I bet he didn’t care. Now, I don’t know your cousin, she might be a very dramatic person and this was just the final straw for you. If she has a habit of dramatics and dropping bombshells at unexpected times, then she probably isn’t going to stop just because you got in a snit. In fact, she’ll probably wait until your grandparents’ anniversary and then announce that you cussed her out over her divorce announcement. I say let it go. In five years will anybody remember or care? I assure you that her news probably made a child’s birthday party far more interesting to the adults in attendance, because watching a ten year old unwrap a Nook just isn’t all that thrilling.

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